Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Butcher and the Rye

Last weekend after seeing Thoroughly Modern Millie (our favorite of the three summer CLO shows we saw), we went to Butcher and the Rye for dinner. We have always really liked B&tR even if we only get there 1-2 times a year. One reason we like it so much is the cocktails.
On the left is SP's Wild Kind (Old Forester 86 bourbon, smoked honey, ginger, lemon, habanero, peychauds bitters) and on the right is my Salinger's Sling (Bulleit rye whiskey, Grand Marnier, demerara, house coffee bitters). He loved his Wild Kind. It was a little too smoky and spicy from the habanero for me. I much preferred my drink.

We ordered some of our usual dishes and some new to us dishes (the menu has changed since we last dined here). Here's what we ate:
Spring Pea Vichyssoise (bacon confit, buttermilk, pea shoot).
Smoked Salmon Rillette (chopped egg, crispy caper, parsley).
Brussels (brown butter, dill, parmigiano reggiano, preserved lemon aioli).
Around this time, it was time for SP to order another cocktail. He chose Central Park Smash (Smirnoff vodka, watermelon, jalapeno, lemon, honey, angostura bitters).
Mac and Cheese.
Sunday Gravy (tomatoes, lamb neck, olive oil, ricotta, warm country bread).
Dirty Pasta (ground duck, rigatoni, sage, brandy, pecorino romano).
Scallop (blue crab risotto, asparagus, mushrooms, capers).
Decaf coffee with cream & sugar.
Cherry Cobbler with vanilla bourbon ice cream.

We still like B&tR a lot. Our server was terrific. Our cocktails were great. Our food was tasty. But we were a little sad that some dishes we really enjoyed are no longer on the menu. For SP, he was sad about no Crispy Pig Wing (Thai chili sauce, pickled mango salad, peanuts, cilantro). For me, it was the Cauliflower (roasted farro grain, romanesco, baby carrots, pine nuts, brown butter, harissa yogurt). I really, really loved that cauliflower dish. I also missed the Hand Pulled Burrata. 

We're pretty sure there used to be daily specials, but this time, there weren't any daily food specials, just cocktail specials. SP was a little sad because he almost always found a special he liked (octopus, oysters, crudo, escargot are some of the ones we've had in the past).

But we'll still go back because I really, really, really the Sunday Gravy and Mac and Cheese and SP can't get enough of the Brussels. 

Butcher and the Rye Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, August 13, 2018

Stout Pub & Kitchen, Revisited

Earlier this month, we went to Stout Pub & Kitchen for the second time. Here's what we ate:
Smoked Duck Nuts (mixed nuts fried in duck fat with shallots, garlic, thyme, and dried cherries). I didn't eat any because of the garlic and because I don't really like nuts. SP thought they were excellent.
Roasted Portabella Ratatouille (rustic tomato, squash, red onion, portabella, house made ricotta, lemon aioli, grilled bread, petite arugula salad). SP liked but didn't love this. When we think ratatouille, we think of chopped vegetables all together, not separate on a plate, and we think zucchini, bell pepper, tomato, maybe eggplant. We don't think carrot. This ended up being disappointing for SP with the bread and the "ratatouille" being heavy on carrots & onion. It wasn't nearly as veggie heavy & satisfying as he expected. He expected much more portabella in a portabella ratatouille.
Smoked Amish Chicken & Apple Baguette (open-faced chicken salad with cherry tomatoes, fresh apples, local chicken breast, and smoked heirloom tomato jam served on baguette). I chose sweet potato fried for my side. I really liked this chicken salad. There was a great smoke flavor and lots of cool apple chunks.

I want to like Stout, but I'm just not sure. The day we went, we had been out since early in the morning & spent the day running around. We didn't head out for dinner until nearly 6:30 pm. Before we went, we checked to see if they are on NoWait and didn't see them there. They are on OpenTable, so we checked there and there were plenty of time slots showing availability. We decided to just go - it didn't seem to make sense to make a reservation. When we were parking, we saw several couples/groups leaving. There was no line. There were empty tables. Yet the hostess informed us the wait would be 20-25 minutes. ? She asked for a cell phone number and told us they'd text when a table was ready.

I was pretty unhappy. SP was befuddled. How could there be a wait that long? The last time we went, after looking at their website right before going, it was closed for a private party. But there had been no note on the website (to be fair, they did manage to seat us in the back room, but shouldn't "closed for private party" be posted on the main web page?). This time, with available reservations on OT and obviously free tables, there was a 20-25 minute wait. Since she said they'd text when our table was ready, I asked if they were on NoWait after all, because we hadn't seen them listed there. Nope. Then I asked why they had available reservations on OT if there was a 20-25 minute wait. SP was fiddling with his phone, about to walk outside, make a reservation through OT, then walk back in and say we had a reservation for 6:30 pm. The hostess looked unsure how to respond, especially since we'd been obviously casting our eyes at the empty tables. Another employee who had recently come up to the front ended up responding, telling us they'd get us seated right away. They did. And our server was great.

I'm just so confused about the wait time. Maybe next time we just need to make a reservation, even if we make one 10 minutes before we show up? Maybe I need someone to explain restaurant seating and empty tables? Or maybe we just need to stick with our usual near where we live places when we're not headed into the city?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

Last weekend, after we got our hair cuts, we met some friends for lunch at Max & Erma's. It was Chocolate Chip Cookie Day so we all got a free cookie. Yum! After, we stopped at Bethel Bakery and got some treats plus another free chocolate chip cookie. More yum!

SP has been really busy with work. He's getting home even later and we're not finishing dinner until nearly 8:30 pm these days. That's getting a little too late for me, so hopefully we can change that soon. One day, the day he left "early," he was stuck in Taylor Swift traffic and was not pleased.

What We're Eating:

What We're Watching:

  • Peaky Blinders Season 4. One more episode to go. I love this show!
  • Succession ended. No spoilers, but I suspected who would be the winners/losers in the takeover, I just didn't know the hows.
  • Sharp Objects is still interesting, just kind of slow, and gosh the mom is nuts. I know I said that last week. But her wailing on the veranda when Amma couldn't be found. Yikes. Maybe she's the killer? Or maybe she's too nuts to actually kill? 
  • Trial & Error is back tonight after a week off for football. Ugh. I'm not ready for football.
  • Animal Kingdom is setting up for some big changes, I think. Baz is gone, looks like Nicky is gone, and looks like the Lucy storyline is done so she's gone. I'm wondering if they find out who really pulled the trigger and what happens to Lena (why isn't Smurf doing more to get her back?). Two more episodes, I think.
  • I watched All the Money in the World. It was a great movie, but gosh grandpa was kind of a jerk. 

What I'm Reading:
My reading pile was gone and then a new magazine issue arrived. I'm excited for the upcoming autumn issues because that's my favorite season, but I'm not ready for summer to end.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

French Crust Cafe

Before we set off on the 4.5 hour trip home from Cincinnati, we decided to have lunch at French Crust Cafe. It's at Findlay Market. It was pretty busy a little after noon on a Friday but we were seated right away. It's cute inside, bright and yellow. Here's what we ate:
For SP: Goat Cheese, Zucchini, and Tomato Quiche with a side salad. He said it was good but he didn't care for the quiche crust.
I chose Tomato, Avocado, Brie Flat Croissant with small salad. A croissant was smushed and toasted  a bit then topped with avocado, tomato, and melted brie. It was tasty, and definitely large enough for me for lunch. Maybe a little too large since SP ate my salad.

We'd go back for lunch. Tasty food. Good service. A good meal before hitting the road and heading home.

French Crust Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, August 6, 2018

Findlay Market, The Rhined, and Goetta

While we were in Cincinnati, we took the opportunity to explore Findlay Market, which is like our Strip District. Lots of food shops and other shops in one area. Waffles, gelato, fresh meats and seafood, cheeses, fresh vegetables and fruits, prepared foods, teas, chocolates, a biergarten. All the shop people we spoke with were really friendly, especially the husband of The Beautiful Bags Lady who talked Dr. Who with SP for a while (we were drawn into the shop by the inflatable dalek outside on the sidewalk). SP left the store with a Dr. Who cotton grocery bag. 
It wasn't super busy when we were there because it was a Friday morning. After taking a walk around, we decided to check out The Rhined for cheese.
As soon as you walk in, there is a case of cheese. Yum. We asked about our favorite cheeses from our time in France but they didn't have them. We did sample some similar cheese and then we decided to do a tasting.
The shop is accessible to enter, but there is a step up into the main area. However, there is an alley to the side of the building that takes you back to the rear off the shop and a patio area. It was a very cute and secluded patio area and we enjoyed looking at the old brick of the buildings and this window in a nearby building - it looked like the bottom of the window was a board of wood.
We decided to share The Mid-West Cheese Flight (close to Cincinnati cheeses). Each flight includes 3 cheeses of various textures and milk types, local jam, dried fruits, and house candied pecans, and
crostini. We also shared a glass of rosé . It was a little early, but we were on vacation.

From left to right, there was a goat cheese with vegetable ash, which was quite tasty. The middle cheese is a creamy brie-like cheese with habanero in the middle. At first it didn't seem too hot, but then it kicked in. I liked the contrast of cool, creamy cheese with the heat from the pepper, but it's not a cheese I would buy because it was bit much for me. The cheese on the right was like a comte cheese and was our favorite of the 3 cheeses.

It was a tasty post-breakfast/pre-lunch snack. The girl working that day was really friendly and helpful. They also offer charcuterie and from Tuesday-Friday and on Sunday they offer several grilled cheese sandwiches. Plus wine and beer. I wish we'd been hungrier to try another cheese flight and some charcuterie, or even a grilled cheese. Next time.

After The Rhined, we walked around some more, and the market was getting busier as lunch time approached. We bought some teas at Churchill's Teas and checked out Eckerlin Meats where we learned about goetta, which is meat-and-grain sausage primarily composed of ground meat (pork, or pork and beef), oats and spices. It was originally a peasant dish, meant to stretch out servings of meat over several meals to conserve money, so it's kind of like Pennsylvania Dutch scrapple, but instead of cornmeal it has oats. The ingredients are smushed into a loaf and then sliced, you fry it, and enjoy. We bought 4 slices to take home in our cooler. SP likes it, me, not so much because of the oats. But I'm glad I tried it. It's a Cincinnati thing, like our chipped ham bbq.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Thursday Thoughts - Aug 2

Last Sunday just as I started my shower SP came into the bathroom and told me to hurry it up because the hot water tank was leaking. Ugh! Unfortunately, after several phone calls, no one could come replace it until the next day. Happily, I got to shower, Unhappily, SP did not. Well, he did, later that day, in a trickle of ice cold water. Also unhappily, he spent the afternoon sucking a half inch of water out of our utility closet, clearing out the stuff that was stored in there, and trying to blot the carpet in the family room as water seeped out of the closet and into parts of the carpet. I am grateful that our friend T brought over his wet/dry vacuum and that my parents came over to take a look at things (since I cannot easily get downstairs, I wanted extra eyes checking out the disaster). They reassured me that it wasn't too disastrous, but we've been running several fans non-stop to dry out things. The tank was replaced by noon on Monday so I guess we're good for another 10-15 years? Hopefully. The old tank was 14 years old.

But ugh what a pain. 

I think we cursed ourselves because in June on the 10th anniversary of closing on this house, we were talking about being here 10 years, which we didn't really expect, and all the work/money we've put into the house - except for one thing. Pretty much everything else had been replaced/updated (kitchen appliances, furnace, a/c, gas line, roof, gutters, skylight, all flooring except for the already updated bathroom, the other bathroom was completely gutted and re-done) and then a month later that one thing decided to ruin a lovely Sunday.

Last Saturday we went to see Mission Impossible: Fall Out (fun summer action movie) and then to dinner at Downey's House. Instead of the usual Fried Zucchini, we started with Fried Mozzarella Sticks:
I love fried cheese sticks. 

What We're Eating:

  • Grilled Lamb Chops and Fruit Salad
  • Cobb Salad
  • Dessert: Chocolate Chip Cookies 

What We're Watching:

  • We watched Ready Player One, which SP enjoyed more than I did, probably because he got more of the 1980's nerd culture references.
  • We finished Peaky Blinders Season 2. We'll start Season 3 tonight. Really liking this show. And Tom Hardy.
  • Sharp Objects is confusing me with all the quick flashbacks. And gosh the mother is wacky.
  • The Succession finale is this Sunday. Curious to see if Kendall sticks to the plan.
  • Six ended last night. What an ending. I wasn't super surprised, but then again I was surprised at a few things that happened (no spoilers!). I hope there's a Season 3.

What I'm Reading:
The Other Woman, the latest by Daniel Silva, one of my favorite authors. I started Tuesday and finished yesterday. Another good one from Silva. I know life isn't always neat & tidy but gosh I sure wanted that woman to not end up where she ended up (again, no spoilers!).

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Sotto (Cincinnati)

Last Thursday-Friday, we took a quick trip to Cincinnati, OH. I've driven through the city many times (my brother used to live in KY) but never actually visited. We wanted to see the Terracotta Warriors Exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum of Art, so we decided to stay overnight & explore. There were several restaurants that sounded good, but Sotto really appealed to me - pasta! Sotto is quite popular and even a month in advance, it was tough to get a reservation. On a Thursday evening, I had a choice between 5 pm and 9 pm. I chose 5 pm. As you can see in the above photo, it's down a flight of stairs, but fortunately, a restaurant next door (Boca) has an elevator that goes down to Sotto.
It was bright & sunny outside at 5 pm, but then you step off the elevator in a dimly lit restaurant. It felt like entering a secret place. There was a lot of exposed brick and a tall taper candle on each table, the flame flickering as people whizzed by bearing plates of delicious smelling food.
It was cozy. It was a little difficult for my old eyeballs to read the menu in the dim light and I felt like using the flashlight on my cell phone would be akin to blasting an interrogation light in someone's face, so I tried to angle my menu into the candlelight. The wine menu is full of Italian wines with which I am not familiar.
In the end, after consulting with our server, SP opted for a glass of Fiano and I chose Gavi. We liked both.

Here's what we ate:
Goat Cheese & Hazelnut Honey Bruschetta. Really good. Creamy goat cheese. Honey drizzle. Crunchy nuts. I used a knife and fork because the honey made it a little too sticky to pick up with my hands.
Mozzarella di Bufala with tomatoes, basil, olive oil, sea salt. It's summer, tomato season, and I can never pass on this dish even though we make it at home. It always tastes better when the pros make it! Really good.
For his entree, SP chose Brodetto di Pesce (shellfish, cod, san marzano, fennel). He ate it all while making "yummy" sounds.
Meanwhile I was busy making yummy sounds while shoveling in Cacio e Pepe (spaghetti alla
chitarra, black pepper). So simple but so darn good.
We each had an after dinner Cappuccino.
There was never any doubt that we would have the Ricotta Doughnuts (with three sauces) for dessert. Sure, tiramisu and a chocolate budino were on the menu, but doughnuts always win. The sauces were chocolate, pistachio, and caramel. We both liked the caramel best, which surprised me because I expected to like chocolate best and SP expected to like pistachio best. Excellent doughnuts.

Our server was great. She helped us pick our wines, she checked on garlic for me. Food was yummy. If/when we are in/near Cincinnati again, we'd definitely try to have a meal at Sotto.

Sotto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, July 30, 2018

Le Soufflé

Our final meal in Paris was dinner at a restaurant called Le Soufflé. A friend who visited Paris for part of the time we were there had eaten lunch at Le Soufflé and suggested it to us. Reservations are necessary so we asked the wonderful hotel people to make one for us. There are a couple small steps to get in, but SP didn't have any problems taking me  backwards up them. They were expecting us and seated us at the table next to a front window.
Pretty plates with a purple flower design. We shared a bottle of sancerre and drank a lot of water since it was quite a warm day. Given the restaurant's name, it's pretty obvious we enjoyed soufflé for dinner. There are 2 dinner options: a 3 course fixed price dinner of just soufflé or a 3 course fixed price menu dégustation, which was more than just soufflé. 
Mom and I chose soufflé only. We started with a small salad next to a cheese soufflé. It was yummy, but also filling.
SP started with Tomato & Burrata + Tomato Basil Petit Soufflé. He said it was excellent. His soufflé part of the meal was smaller than ours, and that was key as we ate more. 
His main meal: Salmon and Spinach Soufflé with vegetables. He said his salmon was very tasty..
Mom and I had the Chicken & Mushrooms Soufflé. Basically, the soufflé gets poked in the middle and the sauce is spooned over the top and into the holes.
The chicken & mushroom sauce was really tasty. But the soufflé was so big and so much egg, especially after the appetizer soufflé. I was discovering that for as light as soufflé is, it can be mighty filling.
SP's smaller spinach soufflé, flecked with teeny weeny bits of spinach.
The interior of my dinner soufflé. I kept adding more and more sauce!
Dessert soufflé! Look how tall that dessert soufflé is! Mom and I chose Grand Marnier, SP chose Calvados. Same idea - poke the soufflé and pour the liquor on top.
The booze bottles were left on the table so you could add more, if you wanted. It got a little too boozy for me! And too eggy. Also, by this point, the restaurant was full of diners, there was a lot of cooking going on, and it was hot inside in spite of the air conditioning. My mom was getting really unhappy. She had never before tried soufflé and this was just too much soufflé for her, we had to take a bus and walk to get there so she wasn't thrilled because she was tired of public transportation and walking  a lot, and then she got way too hot and was complaining about how they needed to turn up the air conditioning, that it couldn't possibly be on, etc. She didn't finish her dessert and left to go outside for some relief.

I thought the food was delicious, but next time I would choose the 3 course meal that SP chose. You still get a good amount of soufflé, but it's not overwhelming egginess.

Our server was terrific and spoke English, plus there were English translations on the menu.